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4th Sunday of Advent Year C, 2012. Prayer around the Advent Wreath, Sunday Readings, Helpful Hints, Deep Sea Diving into the Scriptures, a realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh, Family Prayer and a Blessing from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary. Number 104

18 Dec

Advent wreath 1

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WATCH! BE ALERT! BE ON STANDBY!

The word “Advent” means “coming” and starts with a message similar to the theme of last week’s Mass. Be ready and watch for the coming of Jesus. However, it means a little more than just coming; it conveys to us expectancy within the person waiting.  This can be understood in three ways.


First, we anticipate Christ’s advent on Christmas. We go beyond the materialism of the modern world by a focus on the real meaning of the feast: God enters human existence in a totally personal way.


Second, we look forward to Jesus’ arrival in our lives through the blossoming of our faith and the insight we have as pure ‘gift’ to see God’s saving work at hand in Christ within His Word, Sacrament and Community. Thus in a mystical way we bring his body into the world through our union with him also in the communion of saints.


Finally, we speculate on the end of this universe at the conclusion of time. The universe is not self-sustaining. Eventually it will terminate in some sort of extinction. Time is finite. It will reach a culmination either in a vast cataclysm or total dissolution. Then the real universe will begin in God.

So, welcome to Year C! During Advent and Lent, the three Readings in the Liturgy of the Word are linked….see if you can see and hear the links!

ADVENT WREATH FAMILY PRAYER:

untitled Aussie Advent Wreath

         1ST Sunday. Prophets’ Candle.

                                    2nd Sunday. Bethlehem Candle.

                                                                       3rd Sunday. Shepherds’ Candle.

                                                                                          4th Sunday. Angels’ Candle.

                                                 Christmas Day……..the central white candle.

LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT CANDLES.

The First, Second and Third Candles on the wreath are already lit before the Family Prayer begins.

Leader: As we begin our celebrations of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, let us prepare to light the fourth and last candle on our Advent Wreath. As Advent draws to a close, we pause to pray for faith that opens our lives to the Spirit of God.

(Pause for about 20 seconds to gather our thoughts)

Leader:      In the words of the acclamations, let us pray:

                   Come Lord Jesus, hope of the prophets and desired of all nations.

All.             Come!  Lead us back to you.

Leader:      Come Lord Jesus, Son of God, born of Mary.

All.             Come!  Take flesh in us.

Leader:     Come Lord Jesus, source of grace and hope for peace.

All.           Come and save us, delay no longer.

The Fourth Candle; the Angels’ Candle is now lit.

OPENING PRAYER.

Leader:      Let us pray:

                  God, our Emmanuel,

                  your eternal Word took flesh on our earth

                  when the Virgin Mary placed her life

                  in the service of your plan.

                  Lift our minds in watchful hope

                  to hear the voice which announces his glory

                  and open our minds to the Spirit

                 who prepares us for his coming.

                 We ask this prayer through Christ our Lord.

All.           Amen.

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.

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Helpful hints

It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.

First Reading: Micah 5:1- 4

The Lord says this:

You, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

the least of the clans of Judah,

out of you will be born for me

the one who is to rule over Israel;

his origin goes back to the distant past,

to the days of old.

The Lord is therefore going to abandon them

till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth.

Then the remnant of his brothers will come back

to the sons of Israel.

He will stand and feed his flock

with the power of the Lord,

with the majesty of the name of his God.

They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power

to the ends of the land.

He himself will be peace. The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

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(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)

Psalm: Ps 79:2-3. 15-16. 18-19

R. Lord, make us turn to you;

let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Christ the King

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,

shine forth from your cherubim throne.

O Lord, rouse up your might,

O Lord, come to our help. R.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,

look down from heaven and see.

Visit this vine and protect it,

the vine your right hand has planted. R.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,

the man you have given your strength.

And we shall never forsake you again:

give us life that we may call upon your name. R.

Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10

This is what Christ said, on coming into the world: You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin; then I said, just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book, God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.’

Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

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Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g. ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday!   We never say it… 🙂

Gospel: Luke 1:39-44

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Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES

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If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.

                                                             Focusing the Word

                                                                                     Key words and phrases

Mary set out.

Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.

He will feed his flock with the power of the Lord.

Lord, make us turn to you.

Let us see your face and we shall be saved.

God, here I am.

I am coming to obey your will.

to the point

The Word became flesh when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. This mystery of incarnation is announced when the Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth who recognises the fruit of Mary’s womb as her own Lord. The mystery is fulfilled when Christ obediently offers his ‘body . . . once for all’ (second reading).

                                                 Connecting the Word

                                                                         to the first Sunday of Advent

Advent began with a reading from Jeremiah that the Lord fulfils promises. This Sunday’s gospel ends the Sundays of Advent by affirming ‘the promise made by the Lord would be fulfilled’.

to culture

We tend to think of fulfilment in terms of being personally ‘filled full’. The fulfilment of salvation requires self-emptying; for example, God empties self to send the Son, the Son empties self on the cross.

                                                Understanding the Word

                                                                         Infancy and passion

Especially so close to Christmas, the second reading from Hebrews is jarring. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the letter to the Hebrews speaks of his death. This passage begins, however, with two references to his birth: when Christ came into the world and ‘prepared a body for me’. Why did Christ come? Why did he take on a human body? The answer: ‘I am coming to obey your will’. Through obedience to the will of God, Jesus established a new covenant. Obedience is the key: the extent of obe­dience is demonstrated by his death on the cross. This connection between the birth of Jesus and his obedience unto death is integral to the Christmas festival. In the annunciation Mary responds to the words of Gabriel by saying, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word’ (1:38; this Sunday’s gospel acclamation). By obediently submitting to the divine word, she puts her body at the disposal of God: ‘you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus’ (1:31). Submission to God’s will makes possible the birth that will lead to salvation. The birth of the Messiah and the death of the Saviour are inseparable.

Elizabeth’s question to Mary is really a proclamation of faith: ‘Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?’ The reference to Jesus as ‘Lord’ is an Easter title, indicating that Luke is telling the initial episodes of the gospel in view of the entire story. The resurrection is not a sur­prise ending: it is where the story really begins and the vantage point from which the gospel is proclaimed. The story of the birth of Jesus cannot be separated from the story of his death. Christ was born for a purpose: ‘I am coming to obey your will, O God’ (Hebrews 10:7, 9 ). Birth leads to death as surely as death leads to life.

A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh

 Pic of Kev at his desk (2)

THE WRITTEN STYLE OF THE REALHOMILIE

It is my aim that I present the Homily to you in a way that you might hear me speaking.

I do not follow the strict rules of written prose as such; I use the techniques of oratory shared with me

in many Mission Sermons, and Mission Instructions by tried and true Mission Fathers,

from whom I am privileged to

have been formed in that great tradition.

St.Paul of the Cross. Pray for us.

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Dear One and All,

Here we are at the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and only a few days till the Christmas Celebration! According to the Television News, this is going to be a bumper time ( Big Sales) for the Shops and Department Stores…the economy is starting to move, good times are coming, while the Australian $ is way above it’s worth!  Come, Lord Jesus!!The weather here in Eastern Australia is topsy turvey( Upside Down, inconsistent)  …one day cold, the next day hot! What about the tourist industry that we depend on so much for income, if the weather is not going to perform nicely for us?  Come, Lord Jesus! What about the plight of the poor people in Pacific Islands of Samoa and Fiji; divested by the recent Cyclone Evan? What about the distraught Village of Newtown in Connecitet USA after that horrible killing spree – 20 children and 6 teachers?  Come, Lord Jesus! What about the Holy Land….the place of Christ’s birth where the sound of gun fire and rocket grenades takes the place of Church Bells? Come, Lord Jesus is the Advent cry of God’s people!!!!   Maranatha!!!!!!!!!

The link between the close of Advent, and the Birth of Christ, bursts forth in joy with humility, in the sharing of the Word, within the context of visitation!  With our God, the impossible becomes possible! The Prophet Micah in our First Reading, lifts up the ‘faithful few’ in hope who looked forward intently to God’s saving action as he says, ‘ You, Bethlehem, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel’. What would that ‘rule’ be like?  Would it be that of the pursuit of power and glory, and local domination? No! In the Prophet’s final words today he says,’ He (the promised One) himself will be peace’.

In the Gospel, we see Mary as not only the representative of the New Israel and the ‘faithful few’, who longed for the fulfilment of God’s promises. Her “Yes” to God’s invitation was nurtured through the pondering, and inner  hopeful expectancy that God is doing a new deed in an era, which lacked that general expectancy!  After receiving the mind blowing news that God was going to overshadow her with blessedness, and she to be the Christ-bearer, through the birth of the Emmanuel, “ God-is-with-us” she immediately responds with loving sensitivity to be with her older cousin, in her time of seeing the impossible become possible. The meeting of these two women at the Visitation is truly a moment when God’s Spirit rejoices.  As St Luke and the community who weaved the story of this precious moment says:’ Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ And blessed are we who believe, and know that God will never let us down; no matter how much darkness may be in the skies of our lives. Because like a shooting star, the saving hand of God can surprise us and beckon us with light and love at the most unexpected times, and through the most unusual people and circumstances.

Christmas invites us to be people of ‘visitation;’ to be bearers of God’s love, to respond to the inner stirrings which call us to ‘make haste’ to be with someone. Christmas invites us to listen with the heart, through deep sensitivity, and like Mary, to be people who are alert to the opportunities in daily life which urge us to cross the hills of indifference, and intolerance, and celebrate with joy in Him who calls us to be the ‘Living Word’ every day.  ‘Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face in our sisters and brothers, and we shall be saved.’

May God Bless you, and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer.

Fr.Kev

OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………

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This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word.  Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…

Leader:                          Our help in every need is from the Lord.

                                      In company with Christ,

                                      let us pray to the God who upholds our lives.

Family:                          That the Lord will give new life to the church

                                      as it prepares for the return of its Lord,

                                      let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

                                      That the Lord will give new life

                                       to rulers of nations and their people,

                                       let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

                                       That the Lord will give new life

                                       to victims of injustice and persecution,

                                       let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

                                       That the Lord will give new life

                                       To those who are crushed by poverty
and illness, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

                                       That the Lord will give new life to those who have died,

                                        especially  for the Children and Teachers in the Primary School in Newtown, USA

                                        and for those who have lost their lives in the Pacific Islands.

                                         let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

                                         Let us remember our personal needs.

[pause for about 20 secs and then the family might like to share their prayers)

                                         That the Lord will give us new life

                                         in every need,

                                         let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

Leader:                             Rouse your power, Lord,

                                         in answer to our prayers.

                                         As we turn away from trust in ourselves,

                                         help us turn to trust in you,

                                         the source of new life.

                                         We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.

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Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.

1.                      The Cross

ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.

2.                       The bread……………

ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.

3.                        The pain

ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.

4.                        The joy………………

ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.

5.                        The Gospel……………

ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.

6.                        The love…………

ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.

7.                       The light……………

ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.

8.                       The darkness…………….

ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.

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